Writer’s Block With Patricia Gibney

SOPHIE GRENHAM talks to PATRICIA GIBNEY about her favourite escapes, WRITING AS A FORM OF THERAPY and her CRIME FICTION NOVELS …

The-Gloss-Magazine-Patricia-Gibney-c-Eoin--Rafferty
Eoin Rafferty

Westmeath wonder Patricia Gibney’s spine-tingling debut novel The Missing Ones, has without a doubt cast a spell over the crime fiction scene. Since the book’s publication last month, DI Lottie Parker’s first outing has quickly climbed to the top of the charts of both Amazon UK and US. With a sinister introduction that depicts the burial of a small body at a children’s home; the reader is plunged into the harrowing mystery head first.

Prior to her prestigious four book deal with Bookouture, Patricia worked for the Westmeath County Council as an Administrative Officer. As she was about to complete her third decade of service, her world was turned upside down. The tragic loss of Patricia’s husband Aidan following a sudden illness prompted her to leave the role in 2010. Her craft became a major focus, as she sought therapy in the written word. Healing through creativity has proven to be Patricia’s salvation.

As well as a storyteller, the author is an accomplished artist and illustrator. Gibney self-published a children’s picture book, Spring Sprong Sally: In Her Spring Sprong World in 2011. Patricia also writes short fiction, winning in her category at the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards 2015.

Patricia Gibney lives in Mullingar, County Westmeath with her three children Aisling, Orla and Cathal. Her second novel in the Lottie Parker series is due for release in July this year.

The Missing Ones (€11.70) is published by Bookouture and is available in print and digital format from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

On home

Mullingar has always been my home. It is situated in the heart of Ireland and surrounded by lakes including Lough Derravaragh where legend tells us the Children of Lir spent three hundred years. I remember riding bikes with my friends, as youngsters, to spend lazy summer days by Lough Owel.

I live in a small housing estate, five minutes walk from the town centre. Mullingar is a lively place to live and is home to Niall Horan from One Direction and Niall Breslin from The Blizzards and of course, the late Joe Dolan.

I love Caffrey’s pub at lunchtime. Tony makes a mean toasted sambo. As I don’t drink, I don’t go out too often unless for an Oscar’s early bird. Oscars is great for take-out Sunday lunch, when I’m too lazy to cook!

On creating

The year after my husband died following a short cancer battle, I had to give up work. I rekindled my love of art and writing. The garage was converted into an art room which, I’m ashamed to say, is now a glorified junk room since I abandoned my paints in favour of writing. I write best in the morning, usually before I get out of bed (don’t tell anyone). It might not be described as a ‘creative space’ but it is my space and the place I work best. Over the last year, since my book deal with Bookouture, from time to time, I have rented an office in town in order to complete edits. I find an office more conducive to this kind of work and I haven’t the luxury of one at home – unless I get the energy to de-clutter the garage!

On treasured bookshops

Just Books in Mullingar is the quaintest little book shop. It is small, well stocked and run by Stella. The love of books hangs in the air like a perfume. If Stella hasn’t got the book you want, she will order it and have it the next day. It is worth a visit.

On her nightstand

I mainly read books on my Kindle since my son bought me one last year. On my nightstand I have Treacherous Strand by Andrea Carter waiting to be read. I met Andrea in the Irish Crime Writers Group and loved her first book. However the publication of Treacherous Strand coincided with my book deal so I never got the time to pick it up. I’m off to Lanzarote for a short break in a few weeks time and it will come with me. Hopefully the sea there will be calmer than the book title. I also bought The Sellout by Paul Beatty in The Mysterious Bookshop, NYC last October, so that is coming on holidays with me also. And the laptop.

On escapes

My favourite hideaway is a cottage owned by my cousin, in Kells Bay, Co Kerry. It’s just outside Caherciveen and anytime I’ve cocooned myself there to write, the weather has been awesome. A beautiful spot to get creative. I love city breaks. They provide me with inspiration for additional locations for my books. I would highly recommend Rome but of course my ultimate escape is New York.

On healing

The hardest thing I had do in my life thus far, was to sit our children down and tell them their Daddy was going to die. Aidan died three weeks later. I tried to carry on as before but I crumbled. It took another two years before I could haul myself back up. Creativity helped me. I wrote and illustrated a kiddie’s book, tried a few short stories and won The Jonathan Swift competition in 2015. I took up writing courses. With positive feedback I started to believe I could write and make something of my life once again.

My children, family and friends are great to me, but my life can be very lonely without the love of my life by my side. I found a whole new world when I created Lottie and Co. She has helped me heal. She has taught me to believe. She has taught me be ‘me’ again.

On what’s next

The Missing Ones is the first Lottie Parker crime book. I’m currently editing book two, due out in July, and I’ve started book three.

Sophie Grenham @SophieGrenham

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